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Get lost in your photography, or not

Posted by Brian Schmidt
on Thursday, June 01, 2017

There's something to be said for riding a train and getting lost in the moment. To not have a care other than to gaze out the window and watch the miles go by. Unfortunately, if you're taking photos on that journey, it still pays dividends to keep track of where you are. I learned this upon my return from the 2016 Trains Magazine tour of Ireland, England, and France.

A number of factors contributed to my disorientation on this trip. First, I was with a tour group, so I had done virtually no planning for photo spots – I went where the group went. Second, I was in a foreign land – I had less cultural awareness before I went in. Finally, I was on a train – the countryside was flying by me at mainline speeds!

I spent a good bit of time upon my return researching my photo spots. I knew from photo run-bys the general sequence of things by taking photos of station signs along the way. Working first from a railroad atlas and later from satellite images I was able to figure out where a majority of my on-board photos were taken.

When I took this photo from a Dutch door in Dublin, we were rolling in after a day touring the countryside. It was fairly simple to line up the landmarks visible, but doing this for dozens of images was time consuming.

After returning from the trip, I happened to acquire a new (used) camera. It came with, by coincident, a GPS attachment I thought I would likely never need. But it was in the set and the whole package was a good deal. Whatever.

A few weeks went by before I realized that, yes, I do have a use for GPS tagging on my digital photos. It would have saved me hours of research after the trip.

Some would say, "Why not take better notes?" Good advice for most, but, in Ireland, that wouldn't have been possible. Much of the time, I didn't have a solid notion of where I was to write down to begin with. And keeping my face in a notebook would have reduced the time I could spend with other tour attendees, too. While I won't be attending the 2017 tour of Peru, if I were, you can be sure that I'd have the GPS with me.

A quick survey of five Trains contributors, all shooting digital SLR cameras, reveals that only one is using the technology now, and only two of the four who are not are interested in trying it. Maybe we're just behind the times?

Do you use GPS on or with your camera? Why or why not?

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